Sweden confirms horse in Ikea-supplier meatballs

Ikea's Sweden-based meatball supplier confirmed on Wednesday that it had found horsemeat in meatballs destines for sale in outlets of the Swedish furniture retailing giant.

Sweden confirms horse in Ikea-supplier meatballs

“We learned this morning that tests carried out by Dafgårds showed their meatballs contained horsemeat,” Karin Cerenius, head of inspections in Västra Götaland County with Sweden’s National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), told The Local.

The tests were carried out following reports earlier in the week that Czech food inspectors had found traces of horsemeat in Ikea-brand frozen Swedish meatballs.

“These tests confirm the results from tests carried out in the Czech Republic,” said Cerenius.

The new tests carried out in Sweden showed that meatballs from Swedish food producer Gunnar Dafgård AB, the main supplier of meatballs to Ikea stores throughout Europe, contained between 1 and 10 percent horsemeat.

Generally, any finding over one percent indicates that horsemeat was mixed into the ground meat used to produce the meatballs, rather than simply being a case of contamination that took place during production.

The news came as a blow to Dafgård management, which had claimed on Tuesday that previous tests showed their products to be free of horsemeat.

“We’re devastated. We think it’s incredibly difficult,” deputy CEO Magnus Dafgård told the TT news agency on Wednesday.

“We’re the victims of a criminal act. We’ve been misled and defrauded.”

Dafgård said the company plans to report the responsible supplier to the police, although it remains unclear from where the horsemeat-tainted meat originated.

He confirmed that Swedish meatballs destined for Ikea store shelves tested positive for horsemeat following the company’s own tests.

The tests were carried out on samples taken from the same batch tested by officials in the Czech Republic, as well as on other batches.

Cerenius said her agency has staff on site at Dafgård’s facilities and that the company would now be required to recall its products because they are inaccurately labeled.

“Then they will have to set about tracing the meat to figure out where it came from,” Cerenius added.

Following reports on Monday of the horsemeat discovery, Ikea halted meatball sales at stores in Sweden and 14 other European countries.

On Tuesday, the Swedish furniture retailer extended the ban to stores 24 countries, including outlets in Hong Kong, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic.

Also on Tuesday, Swedish food producers’ group Lantmännen announced it was recalling products containing Dafgård-produced meat on suspicion they may contain horsemeat.

A Lantmännen spokesperson called the recall a “precautionary measure” carried out while the company conducts its own tests.

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Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.